Two men re-arrested in 1988 murders of New Hampshire women

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 12, 2011 5:27 PM
Two men re-arrested in 1988 murders of New Hampshire women

CONWAY, Mass (Reuters) - Two men have been arrested in Canada and charged with the 1988 murders of two New Hampshire women, decades after earlier cases against the pair ended with multiple mistrials or were dropped, authorities said on Tuesday.

Anthony Barnaby and David Caplin are in Canadian custody, pending extradition proceedings, in connection with the murders of Charlene Ranstrom and Brenda Warner, who died on the night of October 2-3, 1988, said Will Delker, a New Hampshire senior assistant attorney general with the cold case unit.

New DNA test results and fresh witness statements gathered in a joint investigation by the New Hampshire Attorney General's office and Nashua, New Hampshire police were enough evidence to arrest Barnaby, 43, and Caplin, 49, and charge them with first degree murder and with acting as accomplices, Delker said.

The bodies of Ranstrom and Warner, who were in a relationship together, were found in their Nashua apartment after being beaten, tied up and stabbed numerous times, he said.

Barnaby, who lived one floor below the women, was arrested several days later.

He was tried for the murders three times -- most recently in 1990 -- but each trial ended with a hung jury. Prosecutors at the time decided not to attempt a fourth trial.

Barnaby's friend, Caplin, who was staying in his apartment, also was indicted, once in 1990, but never tried because courts ruled some evidence against him could not be used.

He was extradited to Canada following a conviction on a burglary charge.

Delker said he could not say whether the murders were considered a hate crime.

However, Barnaby allegedly confessed, telling detectives he and Caplin attacked the lesbian roommates after a string of disputes and because of a dislike of their lifestyle, according to reports on the murders by the Nashua Telegraph.

Barnaby later recanted, though, saying his confession had been coerced during a nearly 20-hour interrogation.

Barnaby and Caplin grew up together on the Restigouche reservation in Quebec, Canada, authorities said. Each was arrested separately in Quebec on Monday.

U.S. and Canadian justice departments were cooperating on the case, although it could be months before hearings conclude and a decision is made on returning them to U.S. soil, Delker said.

(Reporting by Zach Howard; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jerry Norton)